“Seasons of Daufuskie” emphasizes, visualizes change on the sea island

Published: May. 7, 2021 at 1:41 PM EDT
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RIDGELAND, S.C. (WTOC) - A new exhibit at the Morris Center for Lowcountry Heritage visualizes the transformation of a local island.

“Seasons of Daufuskie” showcases photographs of the Gullah sea island taken from 1977 through 1982 by photographer Jeanne Moutousammy-Ashe. Kayleigh Vaughn, Director of Educations and Programs at the Morris Center, says at the time Daufuskie remained largely secluded.

“A lot of the native islanders had left the island to find work, but this was also before Daufuskie became the island that we know of today,” Vaughn said. “So these images are really capturing an era of time that was just on this edge of, like, transformation.”

In preparation for this exhibit, museum staff recently took photos of some of the same island landmarks photographed by Moutousammy-Ashe. These new pictures are displayed in contrast with Moutousammy-Ashe’s original prints.

“You know, now it’s really an island that has a lot of development. People see it as a tourist destination,” Vaughn said.

That doesn’t mean everything is different.

“The First Union African Baptist Church, which is the iconic church that is on the island, we visited that place and were able to photograph it, and really it has not changed much since the building was first erected,” Vaughn said. “It’s probably one of the most untouched buildings on the island.”

“Seasons of Daufuskie” is on exhibit now through July 31.

Additional programming is planned to accompany this exhibit. That includes a conversation with Sallie Ann Robinson. Robinson is a chef and who grew up on Daufuskie Island and still lives there today. She was also a student of Pat Conroy, and her grandmother’s portrait is part of the exhibit.

Since most of the residents featured in the photos were elders, many of the subjects of the exhibit have since passed away.

“She thinks these photographs are so important because they are capturing the essence of these people and who they were, especially since they’re not around anymore,” Vaughn said.

During the interview, Robinson gives her input on the collection of photographs and reflects on her childhood on the island.

“Most people on the mainland depended on other people, where as we depended on ourselves and we had all we wanted,” Robinson said. “We weren’t limited because as much as you put into it is what you got out of it.”

Other events include a book club discussion about “The Water is Wide,” Pat Conroy’s memoir about his time spent teaching on Daufuskie, as well as a conversation with the photographer. All of these programs are free. The conversation with Moutousammy-Ashe is available for Morris Center members only. To see a full schedule and sign up, click here.

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